Bird Island Ecosystem Restoration

Bird Island is a 4-acre gravel and boulder-composed island in Buzzards Bay at the mouth of Sippican Harbor, less than a mile off the mainland coast of the town of Marion, Massachusetts. Bird Island is one of only three small islands along the coast of the U.S. that still provides the critical nesting habitat for the endangered Northeast population of Roseate Tern.

The project involved barging armor stone to the island and reconstruction and repair of the seawall surrounding the island, importing and filling approximately 20,000 cubic yards of gravel on the island, and planting sparse vegetation in order to re-establish and expand habitat for endangered sea bird


  • The project included barging in ~13,000 tons of armor stone and the reconstruction/repair of ~1,000 linear feet (LF) of stone revetment surrounding Bird Island; importing and filling ~5,000 cubic yards (yd^3) of gravel on the island; and planting native vegetation in order to re-establish and expand habitat for federally endangered terns. 
  • Access to the island is by shallow-draft boat or barge and required installation of a temporary unloading platform extending off the island. 
  • Installation of two pile structures was allowed in the near-shore area. A staging/loading area was made available at the Marion Town Wharf. 
  • Construction on the island is limited to an environmental window between Sept. 8 and April 6 due to nesting patterns. The project took two construction seasons (with restoration completion by April 2017). 
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USACE New England District / Massachusetts Dept. of Fish & Game
October 2015 - April 2017